Sunday, June 5, 2016

Greatest Legacy

I had a brother at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there
He's all gone
--Bruce Springsteen

Mohammad Ali passed away this weekend at the age of 74. Many hail him as the greatest boxer of all time. He certainly was one of the best showmen in sports during my formative years of the 1970s. He relished the spotlight. The lead-ups to his fights were like circuses with talking heads like Howard Cosell flocking around him to grab more headline-making quotes. Only Michael Jordan has made the cover of Sports Illustrated more often than Ali.

Ali was not all mouth, though. He famously backed it up in the ring against the likes of Liston, Frazier, Foreman with flamboyant style.

Ali was more than a great boxer, however. He was also an influential activist whose words and actions outside the ring floated like butterflies and stung like bees. For example, Mohammad Ali was the infamous 'draft dodger' of my youth who refused to join the military service when drafted. I didn't appreciate his noncompliance then but I do now.

He was dodging nothing. Instead, he stood up to state demands to be an agent of aggression.

To me, his greatest legacy.

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